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Hawaii Day 1: Aulani!!!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Aflac is SUCH a great company to work for. Not only do they provide great products but they really appreciate their salesforce and reward hard work. We LOVE getting to literally travel the world FOR FREE thanks to all the amazing Aflac incentive trips!

Zach is in management now and is looking to add to his team. If you're in the South Georgia/North Florida area (or willing to relocate) and would like to learn more about Aflac let me know and I can put you in touch with him (journeyofphood@gmail.com)

A free trip is hard to pass up. A free trip to Hawaii is impossible to pass up. We really, really debated not going on this trip. With Mama E originally due November 16th and this trip falling one month prior to her due date we were nervous. What if she went into labor while we were gone? I asked for input in some adoption Facebook groups I'm in and the overwhelming MAJORITY of people said to GO on the trip. So we went and I'm soooo thankful we did!

We got back from Disney on Monday the 9th of October and flew to Hawaii on Friday the 13th. It was a tad insane! But so worth it to have both a "last family of 5 vacation" and "baby moon" before Tab's arrival!


On the Valdosta flight I looked through a catalog the kids circled gift ideas in and was cracking up at some of the stuff they circled!


Atlanta layover meant CFA for breakfast!


We got to fly out of the fancy terminal ;) 



Hidden Mickey's everywhere (still in Disney mode!)


This was our first time ever flying direct to Hawaii from Atlanta. It was also our first time flying to Hawaii where I wasn't either mega pregnant or pumping (first trip I was 32 weeks pregnant with Britt and second trip Tess was 10 weeks old!). AND it was the first time where I had the middle of the middle row seat. I didn't get up much to walk around (with pregnancy I'd walk constantly and with pumping I'd have to go to the bathroom a lot plus with layovers you get off the plane etc) and we hit a little turbulence once we got close to Hawaii. 

Y'all. I have NEVER felt sick the way I felt sick after this flight. I get motion sickness and car sickness but I'm so adjusted to taking preventative measures that I rarely get sick ever so I don't even think about it. I've never gotten motion sickness on an airplane but ALL the factors combined just weren't good. It was BAD. 

I did watch two movies on the flight and Z and I watched Riverdale. I'd heard a lot of good things and I loved the Archie comics growing up. From what we watched it was an "okay" show but very "CW". I did love both movies I watched though. Founder was AWESOME. It really made me think a lot about Kye and how he has such an entrepreneurial spirit and business mindset that we really need to help him foster. I also watched Jackie and it was an interesting look into the Kennedy family (I've always loved Jackie O!).

Hawaiian treats on the flight.


ALOHA!


Once we landed I was in pretty rough shape. I thought I might pass out. We had to go straight from getting our luggage to picking up our rental car. Then when we got to the resort (Hilton Hawaiian Village) we had to wait over an HOUR to check in. Y'all I was DYING. Multiple people kept coming up to see if I was okay. Pretty embarrassing impression on all the fellow Aflac people ha! Thankfully someone brought me some water. I can't quite describe just how miserable it all was. I think the motion sickness combined with jet lag was just rough on my system!



Aflac Swag helped ;) 



We've stayed at Hilton Hawaiian Village for all three of our Aflac trips to Hawaii! 

I love the shout out to Elvis ;) 



We got there pretty early but with my sickness I was just DONE. Zach got pizza and I ate a little but then just needed to crash. I got a solid 12 hours of sleep and felt a LOT better the next morning. It's funny b/c I think getting older def plays a role in travel. In the past Zach and I have adjusted really well to time zone changing but this trip neither of us ever felt fully adjusted to "Hawaii time." We were exhausted each night pretty early and it worked out where we were able to go to bed early each night too so our bodies never had to fully adjust and I think it did help us readjust once we got home. 

I woke up to the news that Kye's football team WON THEIR FIRST GAME and on top of that Kye got the belt for offensive player of the game. Yes. I cried. I felt SO BAD for missing such a big day for him! I know he was loving it having his G-Mama and cousins there to support him but my mama heart ached!!!


Aflac typically does 3 night trips and we have found that it's pretty much crucial to add a night to any of the time zone changing trips. It doesn't make sense to travel all that way for just three nights! We added one night on the beginning of the trip. Our original plan was to add on a couple nights and to not even stay with the Aflac group. We wanted to hop to other islands as we've never experienced Hawaii outside of Oahu. But with the adoption we really couldn't spend any extra money so we stayed with the Aflac plans but did decide to skip all Aflac events. Typically Aflac has breakfast each morning, a fun themed meal each night, a day of tours, and two guest speakers. We didn't do any of it and instead made the trip our own. 

It really made for a wonderful few days together. Completely on our own, just us. We had so much fun exploring and just taking our time and not feeling rushed. We LOVE that Aflac does so many fun, free things while on the trips but they make for a BUSY vacation and many late nights and we just enjoyed doing things at our own pace. It was a perfect babymoon!

My #1 thing I wanted to do while in Hawaii was visit Aulani. It's the Disney Resort in Hawaii and when we first decided to go I looked into booking a room there. Ha. Ha. Crazy expensive. BUT we were able to book a character dining experience which allowed us to enjoy the property and meet the Hawaiian themed characters. I was SO PUMPED. 

Even from afar it was obvious which resort was Aulani. Disney just does things RIGHT. It's simply a GORGEOUS resort. 


Once we signed in we were ushered outside to wait to meet Mickey. It was such a different experience than waiting to meet Stitch at Ohana. It was casual and laid back and none of the waiting families stood in line. Instead everyone was sitting in chairs and on couches and just enjoying the beautiful surroundings. 

My last solo trip to the parks was really a "ah-ha" moment for me. It's when I realized I LOVE DISNEY. I mean I knew I loved it but like it's MY THING. And I'm totally cool with it and own it and allow myself to feel the true joy it brings me. I don't hold back or worry that it may not be "cool" ;) It's my happy place! 

Having that moment of realization has really allowed me to let down any guards I may have had up. I embrace character meet and greets. I am totally cool with solo photo pass pictures. I'm ALL IN. And I'm so glad we waited until this trip to visit Aulani because I appreciated it on a level I wouldn't have in the past. 

SO CRUNK for Hawaiian themed Mickey!


I love that Zach is never "too cool" either ;)








The restaurant was beautiful. All open to the outdoors which allowed for that amazing Hawaiian breeze to come in. I booked us the latest breakfast time which meant it was very low crowds and just a truly relaxed atmosphere. 




So many yummy treats and speciality local items like Hawaiian bread!



Can't forget a Mickey Waffle! And they had red velvet Stitch waffles too



Minnie was ADORABLE. She was all about us too!



Trying to steal my man ;) 





And of course Goofy is always a favorite! 


I love this :) 



Aunty played her ukulele throughout the morning and had interactions with the kids which were adorable. She also went around giving birthday wishes through song. She was beautiful and just perfect to set the Hawaiian tone. 



Early birthday celebrating!!!


I AM OBSESSED with my Hawaiian birthday button! I totally should have had them write my Hawaiian name (Pahana) ;) 




After breakfast we took our time walking the entire property to view it ALL. Even though Zach isn't as hardcore Disney as I am, he appreciates all the details Disney puts into everything they do. He wasn't in a rush or anything either and we both just enjoyed the morning! 




Lazy River


AWESOME water park with multiple really awesome slides



How awesome is this?!?!?


Adorable shacks for quick eats


I love the whole Aulani symbol and how it's present in the architecture and all the designs throughout the resort



GORGEOUS beach!!!










Can we plllllease have a vow renewal in this chapel? How incredible would that be?




Stitch has a great presence in the resort too! We passed a couple different characters doing meet and greets, including a Halloween decked out Mickey that I've never seen before. 



Aulani is a DVC property. We happened to walk by an open room set up for DVC tours and totally helped ourselves to looking around. Of course an agent quickly found us and started pitching but it wasn't bad b/c we are such Disney people that we clearly knew enough about DVC to know it's not something we're interested in pursuing (DVC is Disney Vacation Club...their timeshare). The room we saw though was beautifully done and designed and decorated! 







Heading to the gift shops. Where I struggled not to buy ALL THE THINGS ;) 


Boats like in Moana! I love how authentic Disney is!




Resort map








I fell in LOVE with the quilts in the DVC room. I love quilts and pineapples and hidden Mickeys. I'd love to redo our bedroom at home in navy blue with this quilt :) Maybe someday! 


Aulani did NOT disappoint. It was a fabulous morning and if you're ever visiting Ohau it's worth the drive over (about 45 min from Waikiki) to check it out! 

My dress is Old Navy 


Our rental car was pretty sw-eet! How often can you drive an electric blue car? Perfect for Hawaii!


We literally had no plans so we decided to stop by the Ala Moana mall on our way back. I visited this mall back when I came to Hawaii with my dad in 1999 and 2002. Now that Moana is a household name I couldn't pass up a pic ;) 


And of course our first stop was the Disney store!!! I wish we had one locally and have seen where  people get to use the huge key to open the stores each morning. LOVE IT. 


We got Mrs Charlotte THE cutest Hawaiian Disney coffee cup and I have total buyers remorse that  I didn't get myself one! And it was super super hard to pass up the adorable Hawaiian Minnie Mouse stuffed animal too. Having so many kids does save us money b/c I'm less tempted to buy stuff knowing I'd have to buy multiples haha!


My one mission for the trip was to find some Hawaiian sandals. I bought some on my first trip in 1999 and they are randomly in style right now. I see them all the time on Facebook and being sold for WAY more than they are in Hawaii. My pair are pretty warn and are too big (yes, my feet have SHRUNK in adulthood...I used to be a 7 ½ and now I'm a 6 ½!).  I was so proud of my memory skills because I remembered the store where I bought them and sure enough I found em super easily! You can get a pair here :) 


Beautiful mall!



Zach's big (random haha) purchase was some Shakas. They are unbreakable customizable sunglasses with a lifetime guarantee. They look SO good on him and he deserved a "treat yo self" moment ;) 


We went back to the room and showered and got ready (and watched a little Always Sunny In Philadelphia) then headed to dinner at BuHo


YUM.



Clearly I'm impressed. Hahaha


Love date nights with my man! 



Had to get a snack on the way back to the room...mine was pretty accurate as I do NOT like this certain kind of chocolate and Zach was making so much fun of me for it. But lucky him it meant he got an extra Snickers Ice Cream Bar ;) 


We had a simply phenomenal first day and it set the tone for the entire trip. So thankful for these times away together and that Zach works for such an incredible company that allows us these opportunities!!!

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